Early on Sunday, May 24, the Illinois General Assembly concluded its 2020 Spring Legislative Session — a session unlike any other.
Beginning January 28, legislators in both chambers convened for 14 days before being indefinitely paused on March 16 due to the new coronavirus (COVID-19) Shelter-In-Place Executive Order (EO). The state legislature convened a special session from May 20 to May 24, ensuring passage of a state budget and other essential legislation — including an expansion of vote-by-mail, Fair Tax ballot language for the November election, and COVID-19 relief package.
Originally scheduled to meet for a total of 53 days, this Spring Legislative Session was condensed into only 19. Though COVID-19 dramatically changed the 2020 state legislative session, AIDS Foundation Chicago (AFC)’s advocacy on behalf of people living with or disproportionately impacted by HIV and AIDS and other chronic conditions did not waver. Along with many of you, we are proud to have advocated for the following measures:
To meet the priorities of the Getting to Zero Illinois (GTZ-IL) plan, AFC advocated for a $2.1 million increase in state funding in FY21 for HIV treatment and prevention services, including HIV testing, PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and the African American HIV/AIDS Response Act. In addition to this increase in HIV funding, AFC requested $900,000 in new state funding to address the growing rates of STI diagnoses (i.e. chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis) across the state.
Status at the End of Session: Due to lower revenue projections and a projected budget deficit of up to $10 billion between FY20 and FY21, the Illinois General Assembly passed mostly level funding for the FY21 budget, when compared to the prior year. The $42.8 billion FY21 budget (Budget Bill - SB264 HA5 and the BIMP (Budget Implementation bill – HB357 SA2) includes:
These budget lines support primary care and HIV prevention, education, housing and treatment services for Illinoisans living with or vulnerable to HIV.
To help address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black, Latinx and LGBTQ+ communities, AFC requested $57 million in additional state funding to meet essential housing and human needs of people living with HIV, people who use PrEP, and people vulnerable to HIV. Additionally, AFC requested a $1 million investment in Black-led and Latinx-led HIV community-based organizations in Illinois to help them weather the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Status at the End of Session: AFC is pleased that of the total $3.9 billion in COVID-19 relief funding, $1.1 billion is appropriated with communities of color in mind, though not specifically directed at Black and Latinx people living with or vulnerable to HIV. This relief funding came through Illinois’ share of the federal CARES Act passed by Congress in late March.
The goal of this bill is to make sexual health education in Illinois inclusive and affirming, providing youth the full toolbox of knowledge to make informed decisions about their health. Specifically, the IL Healthy Youth Act removes outdated, stigmatizing language and builds on current standards for health and sexual health education courses.
Status at the End of Session: Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, this bill was not heard in the House Elementary and Secondary Education: School Curriculum & Policies Committee and did not advance in the legislative process.
This bill would create the IL Prescription Drug Affordability Board (PDAB), an independent, nonpartisan body tasked with reviewing high-cost prescription drug prices and setting appropriate upper payment limits. AFC, a member and leading partner organization in the Protect Our Care Illinois (POC-IL) Coalition, has been thrilled to work with POC-IL on bringing Illinoisans one step closer to having high-quality, affordable health care.
Status at the of End of Session: Despite bringing together over 250 advocates for a successful lobby day in Springfield on March 3, this bill did not receive the minimum number of votes to move out of the House Committee on Prescription Drug Affordability and Accessibility. This bill did not advance further in the legislative process this session.
To decrease Chicago’s budget deficit and address homelessness in the city, the projected revenue from this legislation would have generated $88 million to decrease Chicago’s budget deficit and $79 million to address homelessness in the city. AFC, Pride Action Tank (PAT) and the Center for Housing and Health (CHH) were pleased to partner with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless and other organizations through the Bring Chicago Home Campaign to address these important issues.
Status at the End of Session: Unfortunately, this bill was not heard in the House Revenue & Finance Committee and did not advance any further in the state legislative process this session.
A health care initiative from Governor Pritzker’s office, this bill requires the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) to conduct a feasibility study exploring options that make health insurance more affordable for Illinoisans. Once completed, a proposal would be submitted to the Illinois General Assembly and the Governor concerning the design, costs, benefits and implementation of a State Option for health insurance coverage.
Status at the End of Session: This language in this bill was included in the final health care package passed by the Illinois General Assembly. AFC is optimistic that Governor Pritzker will sign this bill into law.
This legislation extends Medicaid eligibility to all low-income Illinois residents aged 19 and older regardless of their immigration status, estimated to provide coverage to approximately 93,000 residents including 15,000 young adults and an estimated 500 seniors (aged 65 and older).
Status at the End of Session: Though it did not advance out of the House Human Services Appropriations Committee, amended language from this bill was included in the Budget Implementation Bill (BIMP), HB357 SA2. Specifically, this amended language provides medical coverage for all seniors, aged 65 and older with incomes at or below 100% Federal Poverty Line ($12,760/ year single person; $17,240/year for a couple). The BIMP bill was passed by the Illinois General Assembly, and AFC expects Governor Pritzker to sign this bill into law.
Though we did not introduce a bill this state legislative session on HIV Decriminalization, AFC is actively working with the Illinois HIV Action Alliance (IHAA) to outreach, educate and engage priority populations, stakeholders and decision-makers on the need to repeal Illinois’ HIV Criminalization law. AFC and IHAA are laying the groundwork necessary to introduce an HIV Decriminalization bill in the future.
Each year, AFC organizes a statewide Advocacy Day at the State Capitol in Springfield where advocates have the opportunity to speak with their legislators about the issues affecting people living with or vulnerable to HIV. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, AFC quickly pivoted to organize a Virtual Advocacy Day, still on the original scheduled date of April 29. Though the ways we advocate may have to change, advocates across the state proved that our advocacy cannot, and will not, be postponed. To #ActivatePowerIL, advocates throughout Illinois:
The 2020 Spring Legislative Session will certainly not be forgotten any time soon. We do, however, want to take this opportunity to thank you all for your advocacy. Your stories and voices have made a difference!
Although this legislative session has ended, please join us in continuing to protect those most vulnerable in our communities, including people living with or vulnerable to HIV.
Sign up for AFC’s Mobile Action Network to stay plugged in with our advocacy work throughout the year!